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1 day ago · Inhaler techniques in Aging & Health: Take Charge

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The metered dose inhaler is one of the most common types of inhalers in treating airway disorders such as asthma. However, it’s estimated that fewer than half the people who use them do so correctly. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your inhaler:

  • Shake the inhaler well and attach a spacer — A spacer is a 4- to 8-inch plastic tube that may be hollow or have a one-way valve. A properly used spacer maximizes the amount of medication reaching your lower airways, and greatly decreases the amount deposited in the throat.
  • With upright posture, deeply breathe in and out a few times — Stop exhaling just before your lungs are completely emptied and hold your breath. Place the spacer between your teeth and close your mouth around the end to form an airtight seal.
  • Inhale medicine slowly — Inhale slowly as you squeeze the inhaler once and medication is released into the spacer. Be sure to breathe in slowly, as you would when sipping soup. Continue inhaling slowly for five to seven seconds. After inhaling, hold your breath for about five to 10 seconds before exhaling.
  • Rinse your mouth — After using the inhaler — especially one that contains a class of medication called corticosteroids — gargle with water and spit it out. This helps prevent thrush. Clean your spacer by washing the plastic part in soapy water at least once a week.

If you have continued trouble with your metered dose inhaler, check with your health care team.

 

For more on breathing issues, join the conversations at the Lung Health group.

Tue, Jul 28 9:42am · Reducing foot odor in Aging & Health: Take Charge

 

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Everyone’s feet sweat. Wearing shoes creates a warm, dark, moisture- trapping environment that’s ideal for bacterial and fungal growth and as a result, foot odor.

To keep foot odor in check:

  • Wash daily with soap — This reduces the bacteria and fungi on your feet. Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes, before you put on socks and shoes. A hair dryer on the cool setting can help.
  • Powder your feet — With clean, dry feet, apply a light dusting of cornstarch or an antifungal powder to help keep the feet dry.
  • Choose the right socks — Sports socks help keep moisture away from the skin and tend not to retain moisture. Wool or cotton socks also absorb moisture, although moisture can build up and cause odor. Change socks if they become damp.
  • Keep shoes fresh — Buy shoes made of breathable material, such as sports shoes or shoes made of natural materials. Try not to wear the same shoes two days in a row unless they have thoroughly dried out. Remove shoe inserts when possible to help them dry faster. Shoes that have developed an odor may need to be thrown out if washing with soap doesn’t help.
  • Air them out — If those around you don’t mind, kick off your shoes now and again to let your feet air out.
  • Seek help if needed — If you have a foot wound or skin problem — or if your feet sweat excessively — talk to your doctor  about therapies that may help.

 

For a monthly dose of reliable health information that’s anything but pedestrian, check out the Mayo Clinic Health Letter!

 

Wed, Jul 22 10:13am · Diabetes diet foundation in Aging & Health: Take Charge

 

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At our Aging Well discussion group, the topic of a diet for diabetes or heart and kidney issues was mentioned and inspired this post. While some problems do require very specific diets or solutions, a baseline for just about any healthy diet is eating at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits every day.

Why? Fresh vegetables and fruits are the foundation of a healthy diet and successful weight loss. Most processed foods, sweets and non-diet sodas contain a lot of calories in just a small portion. Vegetables and fruits are the opposite — they have lots of bulk and few calories. However, because fruit contains natural sugars, which can increase your blood sugar, try to eat more vegetables than fruit.

Here are some tips for incorporating more plant foods into your diet:

  • Be selective. Eat only those vegetables and fruits that you like, but don’t be afraid to explore different types and varieties. You may be surprised by their appealing tastes and textures.
  • Make them No. 1. Vegetables should take up the largest portion of your dinner plate, with fruits trailing close behind. Eat these foods first, rather than reserving them for the end of the meal.
  • Consider them a priority. When planning meals, think of dishes that contain vegetables or fruits as the centerpiece and build the rest of your meal around them.
  • Mix it up. Try both raw and cooked vegetables. Lightly cook, steam or roast vegetables for a softer texture. Sprinkle them with herbs for flavor.
  • Use them as grab-and-go foods. When you’re in a hurry, have ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits on hand. Buy fresh vegetables and fruits that require little preparation, such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, bananas and grapes.
  • Think toppings. Add bananas, strawberries or other fruit to cereal or yogurt.
  • Go for fresh. Dried fruit and fruit juice are higher in calories than fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit. Dried fruits and fruits juices can significantly increase your calorie intake.
  • Explore. Visit local farmers markets if you do so and be COVID-safe. The freshness and variety may encourage you to try new kinds of produce. It’s easy to stroll past veggies and other plants that are unusual or that you don’t normally eat. Each time you go to a market or store, write the name of a vegetable or other plant down and go home to research how it can be eaten. You can return next time and buy it, along with any other ingredients you may need to prepare it.
  • Innovate. Find ways to incorporate vegetables with other foods or into existing recipes. Add them to soups, casseroles and pizzas, and pile them onto sandwiches.
  • Pack ’em. When traveling, snack on ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits.

 

For a comprehensive strategy, tips and plan for eating well with diabetes, consider The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet book.

Tue, Jul 14 3:15pm · Preventing diverticulitis attacks in Aging & Health: Take Charge

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If you’re age 60 or older, there’s a 60 percent or greater chance that you have diverticular disease (diverticulosis). This means that small pouches (diverticula) have developed along the walls of your large intestine (colon).

For most people, diverticula never cause a problem. You may only learn of the disease as a result of a colon exam done for another reason. However, up to about 15 percent of those with diverticula experience a painful attack caused by inflammation or infection of a diverticular pouch (diverticulitis). A similar percentage of people may experience nonpainful rectal bleeding.

It’s generally felt that lifestyle improvements can reduce the risk of a first or a recurrent diverticulitis attack. Steps include:

  • Gradually adopting a high-fiber diet — In one study, a high-fiber diet resulted in about a 40 percent decreased risk of diverticulitis attacks compared with a low-fiber diet. It’s recommended that men older than 50 get 30 grams of fiber daily and women older than 50 get 21 grams of fiber daily. This can be done by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, beans and legumes. Seeds, nuts or popcorn can also add fiber — and importantly, there’s no evidence that these increase diverticulitis risk, as was once commonly believed. A fiber supplement such as methylcellulose (Citrucel, others) or psyllium (Metamucil) may also be used to boost your fiber intake.
  • Exercising regularly — Vigorous exercise such as jogging or running appears to reduce the risk of diverticulitis.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight — In one study, obesity was associated with about a 50 percent increased risk of diverticulitis attacks, particularly in those who carry more of that extra weight in the abdominal area.

Digestive issues are common, and you can learn from others who are dealing with the same digestive health questions that you have at the Digestive Health group.

Great health advice from top to bottom is available with a subscription to Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Thu, Jul 2 4:42pm · Start your day right in Aging & Health: Take Charge

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A nutritious breakfast can be a great start to your day — but what makes a breakfast healthy? It generally means a combination of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of healthy fat. Complex carbs such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables help replenish energy stores depleted overnight and provide vitamins, minerals and fiber — which helps you feel full longer.

Adding in lean proteins, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, also helps you delay hunger. One example is low-fat dairy products, which are important sources of vitamins A and D, calcium, and potassium.

A morning meal with these elements will help improve your concentration; provide nutrients important to your heart, bones and other systems; and may help control the amount of calories you take in later in the day.

Choose from at least three of these four food groups to round out a healthy breakfast:

  • Whole grains — Whole-grain bread or bagels, hot or cold whole-grain cereals, whole-grain English muffins, and whole-grain waffles.
  • Lean protein — Eggs, lean meat, legumes and nuts.
  • Low-fat dairy — Milk, plain or low-sugar yogurts, and low-fat cheeses, such as cottage cheese and natural cheeses.
  • Fruits and vegetables — Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, 100 percent juice drinks without added sugar, and fruit and vegetable smoothies.

Fill up a part of your day with tips, tricks and conversations on healthy eating, weight loss and exercise at the Health Living group.

Tue, Jun 30 9:07am · Finding an acupuncturist in Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles to various depths at strategic points on the body. Among the best studied applications of acupuncture are for treating pain and nausea and vomiting related to receiving chemotherapy for cancer.

If you’re considering acupuncture, it’s important to find a qualified practitioner. Take the same steps you would to choose a doctor:

  • Ask people you trust for recommendations.
  • Check the practitioner’s training and credentials. Most states require that nonphysician acupuncturists pass an exam conducted by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
  • Talk to the practitioner. Ask what’s involved in the treatment, how likely it is to help your condition and how much it will cost.
  • Find out whether your insurance covers the treatment.

In addition, tell your primary doctor you’re considering acupuncture. Your doctor may be able to tell you about the success rate of using acupuncture for your condition or recommend a practitioner. In addition, a growing number of medical doctors use acupuncture as part of their clinical practice.

 

Have you tried acupuncture? Share your experience at our group Aging Well.

More integrative health information from Mayo Clinic can be found in The Integrative Guide to Good Health.

 

Tue, Jun 23 11:40am · Choosing an orthotic shoe insert in Aging & Health: Take Charge

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An orthotic is a device that goes into your shoe to help support the foot in various ways. Orthotics can provide cushioning, even out pressure, and control abnormal motion that might be causing discomfort or pain.

They’re used to help prevent, improve or accommodate a wide variety of foot problems. Orthotic devices are also used to help bring your feet, ankles and lower body into proper alignment.

There are two main categories to choose from:

  • Nonprescription shoe inserts — These prefabricated inserts can be found in many pharmacies, shoe stores and sporting goods stores. They can be made from a variety of materials ranging from soft to semirigid. Some can be heat molded to better fit the contours of your foot. Nonprescription options are often a good place to start if your doctor recommends a shoe insert to treat foot pain. Select one that feels comfortable right away — if it hurts or simply doesn’t feel right, it’s unlikely to get better with time.
  • Custom-molded prescription orthotics — These medical devices are prescribed by a doctor and are made from a mold or computer analysis of your foot. Custom orthotics are more expensive than nonprescription shoe inserts — check to see if they’re covered by your insurance. The Extra cost may be worth it if you need greater support or if you can’t find a nonprescription option that fits comfortably. Regardless of what type you choose, talk with your doctor first so that you can make sure you buy the right type of insert for the foot condition you’re trying to address.

Got a favorite shoe insert that has worked for you? Or other tips for making the feet feel good? Join the discussion at our Aging Well group.

Find a wide variety of useful health information that fits just right by subscribing to Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Tue, Jun 16 9:23am · Common back pain therapies that probably don’t work in Aging & Health: Take Charge

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A number of common back pain treatments and therapies are simply not supported — or only very modestly supported — by scientific evidence in terms of providing back pain relief. This includes some therapies that were more widely accepted a decade or more ago, but have since been shown to be lacking evidence of effectiveness. Examples include:

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) — This is when electrodes are taped to your skin to deliver painless electrical current to parts of your back. It appears to provide no benefit for acute or chronic back pain.
  • Back braces or corsets — These do not help relieve or prevent acute low back pain. There may be some role in those with longer-term back pain, but they should be worn sparingly, and are best used by those who are actively trying to improve fitness and back health.
  • Many corticosteroid injections — Injections into disk space or a spine (facet) joint, injections for spinal stenosis or into trigger points may provide modest, short-term relief, but do not appear to be effective over the long-term.
  • Ultrasound therapy — This involves the use of sound waves to warm internal tissues. It has been used on the theory that it helps relax muscles, but most research has shown that it is not effective for back pain.
  • Opioid pain medication for chronic back pain — Simply put, non-opioid pain medications such as NSAIDs and select antidepressants appear to work just as well or better over the long term compared to opioids, and with fewer risks and side effects. As such, opioid pain drugs are rarely indicated for chronic back pain.

Connect with others on their experience with back pain at the Spine Health group.